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Main > Native American folktales > Fairy tale "The Origin of the Narwhal"

The Origin of the Narwhal


The boy did not believe her story. He was sure that it was the skin of the bear he had shot. But he said nothing more. His mother was anxious to make peace with him, and offered him food and clothing, which he refused to take.

He went to the other Inuit who lived in the same village and made a spear and a harpoon of the same pattern as they used. Then he watched them throw the harpoons, and in a short time he became an expert hunter and could catch many white whales.

But he could not forget his anger at his mother. He said to his sister, "I will not come home while our mother lives in the house. She abused me while I was blind and helpless, and she mistreated you for pitying me. We will not kill her, but we will get rid of her and then live together. Will you do what I have planned?"

She agreed. Then he went to hunt white whales. As he had no kayak he stood on shore, winding the end of the harpoon string around his body, and taking a firm footing so he could hold the whale until it quieted down and died. Sometimes his sister went along to help him hold the line.

One day his mother went to the beach, and he tied the string around her body and told her to take a firm footing. She was a trifle nervous for she had never done the thing before, and she said, "Harpoon a small dolphin, else I may not be able to hold it, if it is large enough to make a strong pull."

After a short time a young animal came up to breathe, and she cried, "Kill that one. I can hold it."

"No, that one is too large," he said.

Again a small dolphin came near, and the mother shouted, "Spear that." But he said, "No, it is too large and strong."

At last a huge animal arose quite near, and immediately he threw his harpoon, taking care to wound but not to kill it, and at the same time pushing his mother into the water.

"That is because you abused me," he cried, as the white whale dragged her into the sea.

Whenever she came to the surface to breathe she cried "Louk! Louk!" and gradually she became transformed into a narwhal.

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